Sunday, July 11, 2010
All families, at some time or another, take a family vacation that includes a road trip. Many parents get exhausted just thinking about piling all the kids into the tiny tin box that is the family vehicle, and embarking on a long drive. They shudder at the memory of the last family road trip and the incessant cries of, “Are we there yet?” and “He won’t stop touching me!” or “I have to go to the bathroom, right now!!!”
Family road trips don’t have to be a necessary evil. In fact, family road trips can be a bonding experience for the entire family. Spending “quality time” together, in the family vehicle, provides an opportunity to talk to each other, laugh with each other, have fun together, and reconnect as a family.
Whether you’re traveling with teenagers or toddlers, these ten tips are sure to make your family road trip a success!
1. Get an early (or late) start. When traveling with children, especially younger children, it can make the trip feel less long when some of the traveling is done during the early morning, or late night, hours. Have each child grab their pillow, and maybe a blanket, so that they can catch some zzzz while the family bus is taking everyone to your super-fun vacation destination.
2. Plan for some kid friendly car ride activities. Younger children will enjoy picture books, an Etch a Sketch, or some small toys. School age children will enjoy bringing their Nintendo DS, a coloring book and crayons, or card games. Teens will likely not leave home without their iPod and their laptop. Portable DVD players are a good choice for children of all ages.
3. Consider getting the children an inexpensive new toy to take on the trip. Refrain from letting the children have the toy in advance. Make it a special toy that they are allowed to have once you get moving. Travel checkers, a deck of cards, or a new book make great ‘travel gift’ ideas.
4. Play car games. There’s nothing like a good game of ‘twenty-questions’ or ‘eye-spy’ to break up the monotony during a long trip. Some families enjoy making up their own car games as well. A classic car game in my family is the ‘slug bug’ game, in which the person who spies the most VW Beatle’s wins.
5. Rock out to some traveling tunes. Bring along some CD’s or pack the MP3 player for everyone in the family to enjoy. Silly children songs, fun 80’s music, or even some pop music (that mom & dad find tolerable) will make for a fun family sing-a-long.
6. Take a break every 3-4 hours. Even adults need to stop to stretch, use the facilities, and “re-charge” during long road trips. Stop at a scenic rest stop and give the kiddos some time to run around and stretch their legs. Bring a picnic lunch or stop at a restaurant.
7. Make the road trip part of the fun. Plan to stop at a special museum, park, or ice cream shop along the way. By planning a special stop, or two, as you make your way towards your destination, you can get the children excited about road travel while breaking the trip up into smaller, easy to manage, segments.
8. Book your hotel in advance. If your road trip calls for an overnight stop, plan it out in advance. Book your overnight stay at a family-friendly hotel with a pool. The children will have something to look forward to as the end of the day draws near.
9. Arrange for a mid-trip surprise. Children love surprises. Whether you go all out and plan a detour to an amusement park or if you pack a special 'sweet treat' to break out while you drive, you’re children will smile when you tell them you have planned a surprise!
10. Wrap up the trip with a friendly contest. Have everyone guess the answer to a travel related question such as; 1) What time will we arrive at our destination? or 2) What will the odometer mileage read when we get there? Coming up with a prize makes the game all the more fun! Some ideas are letting the winner choose what restaurant the family will eat dinner at or what the first activity will be once at the vacation destination.
This post is a contest entry. I am participating in a blogger contest held by Cabins For You. Cabins For You specializes in cabin rentals located in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN. For more information about cabins, events and attractions please visit their blog.